Unveiling the Radiance: The Story of Sol de Janeiro

How a beauty brand grew from nothing to a $450 million valuation

Read time: 5 minutes

Good morning! It's Monday, May 6th. Today’s post looks at company that has become a favorite with beauty care lovers all over the world.


In 2015, two friends, Heela Yang and Camila Pierotti, found themselves bonded by their shared love for the vibrant culture of Brazil. Inspired by the beauty secrets of the country, they saw an opportunity to bring a slice of Brazilian sensuality to the world, embarking on a journey that would birth one of the most beloved beauty brands today: Sol de Janeiro.

Driven by their passion for Brazilian beauty, Yang and Pierotti set out to capture the essence of Rio de Janeiro – its energy, its warmth, and its joy – in a line of skincare products. Their vision was to create luxurious formulations infused with Brazilian ingredients, celebrating the body confidence and contagious spirit of Brazil.

The Secret Sauce

At the heart of Sol de Janeiro's philosophy lies the belief that beauty should be an experience that ignites the senses and uplifts the soul. From the sultry beaches of Copacabana to the bustling streets of Ipanema, each product is designed to evoke the sensory delight of Rio, transporting users to the sun-soaked shores of Brazil with every application.

Utilizing ingredients that are indigenous to the region, such as Guaraná (Brazilian fruit rich in caffeine that helps to energize and firm the skin), Cupuaçu Butter (derived from the seeds of the cupuaçu tree, this ingedient is highly moisturizing ingredient that helps to soften and nourish the skin) and the Brazil Nut (rich in selenium, zinc, and vitamin E, Brazil Nut oil is deeply nourishing and helps to improve the overall health and appearance of the skin) they were able to offer products never seen at the consumer level.

One of Sol de Janeiro's early breakthrough products was the Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, a luxurious body cream infused with guaraná extract, cupuaçu butter, and coconut oil. This cult-favorite cream quickly gained a devoted following for its skin-smoothing properties and its irresistible fragrance – a blend of pistachio and salted caramel that captures the essence of a Brazilian beach day.

Building on the success of the Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, Sol de Janeiro expanded its product line to include an array of indulgent skincare essentials, from shower gels infused with açai and coconut oil to body mists that evoke the scent of tropical blooms. Each product is meticulously crafted to deliver a sensorial experience that celebrates the beauty of Brazilian culture and the diversity of its natural ingredients.

Capitalizing on Niche Market and Challenges Faced

As Sol de Janeiro's popularity soared, so too did its financial success. In 2019, the company reported revenue of $50 million, a testament to the brand's growing influence in the beauty industry. Bolstered by its loyal fanbase and innovative product offerings, Sol de Janeiro has continued to thrive, becoming a staple in the skincare routines of beauty enthusiasts worldwide.

However, Sol de Janeiro's journey has not been without its challenges. In 2020, the brand faced criticism for its marketing campaign promoting the Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, with some accusing the brand of perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards. Despite the backlash, Sol de Janeiro remained steadfast in its commitment to celebrating body positivity and self-confidence, reaffirming its mission to empower individuals to feel beautiful in their own skin.

The following year, in 2021, it was announced that L’Occitane Group had acquired an 83% stake in the brand, valuing the company at $450 million. Since then, Sol de Janeiro has been leading the charge for L’Occitane Group, which recently reported that they grew a whopping 184% last fiscal year, year-over-year.

Sol de Janeiro shows no signs of slowing down. With a growing portfolio of skincare essentials and a steadfast dedication to its Brazilian roots, the brand continues to captivate audiences with its vibrant energy and irresistible charm. As Sol de Janeiro continues to shine brightly on the global stage, it remains a beacon of beauty, joy, and celebration for all who dare to embrace the radiance of Rio.

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